Acid attack survivor Reshma Bano Qureshi has become the toast of India and the world ever since she walked the ramp at the New York Fashion Week on Thursday.
Reshma was scarred for life after her face was disfigured in an acid attack two years ago.
But by walking for fashion designer Archana Kochhar at the world-famous fashion gala, she sent a message of courage and inspiration to other acid attacks survivors.
HT City was the first publication to do an elaborate fashion shoot with Reshma before she left for New York. The chirpy teenager was full of life when she met us for an early morning shoot in Delhi.
Reshma told us she loves pink lipstick, and wanted her hair to be styled exactly like Katrina Kaif, her favourite actor.
She also told us how much she hates it when someone calls her a victim.
“I survived the attack, didn’t I? How can I ever be a victim?” she said, adding, she feels more beautiful now than ever, as her perception of beauty has changed.
And this is the message she wants to share with the world: “Make your heart beautiful. Beauty it not just about how you look,” she said.
Here are 11 things you must know about the brave and beautiful Reshma:
1 Reshma Bano Qureshi is the youngest daughter of a taxi driver from Mumbai.
2 The chirpy 19-year-old loves watching Katrina Kaif films, dressing up and taking selfies.
3 Reshma’s world turned upside down two years ago when she was attacked by her brother-in-law, who disfigured her face with acid.
4 Her brother-in-law mistook her for his wife (her elder sister) and doused her face with acid as both were wearing a burqa.
5 The incident took place at the railway station in her hometown, Mau Aima, 36 km away from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. She had gone there to give her 10th standard exams.
6 Just weeks before the attack, Reshma got a haircut and bought make-up for the first time in her life, for a family wedding.
7 Reshma went into depression after she saw her face in the mirror for the first time, a few weeks after the attack. She cut herself off from the world and even contemplated suicide.
8 A meeting with Ria Sharma, founder of NGO Make Love Not Scars, transformed Reshma’s life. Ria talked her out of depression, and started a crowd-funding campaign to help Reshma meet hospital and legal expenditure. Ria built a strong emotional bond with Reshma. She helped her regain her courage and fight for justice. It was then that Reshma stopped covering her face in public.
9 Reshma made her modelling debut in the online campaign #EndAcidSale, which became a big hit. In the one-of-its-kind beauty tutorial, Reshma talked about how it takes two minutes to put on blush, but just 3 seconds to scar a face forever. She also talks about how finding the right shade of lipstick is harder than buying concentrated acid in the market.
10 The posters and videos of the campaign won a Glass Lion and two Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016, France.
11 Russel Powell, a California-based artist famous for his hand-stamped artwork, made a black-and-white painting of Reshma. She was touched to see this one-of-a-kind artwork, and broke into tears.